What came first, the granary or the grog?
May 7, 2016 Wines & Spirits
One of life’s biggest questions
Beer and bread are made out of the same essential ingredients, water and cereal. The two have been enjoyed for thousands of years but one question that still vexes historians is: which came first, the beer or the bread?
Well, probability states that bread wins, but by a narrow margin. It’s likely that the very first brew was made by happy accident in Sumeria, in the Middle East, about 10,000 years ago. All it would have taken was for a diner to dunk some bread in water, not finish his meal or clear it away, and the grain’s enzymes would have converted starches into sugars and airborne yeasts would have turned those sugars into alcohol.
The “brew” would have packed a powerful wallop, and our Stone Age forefathers drank it through a straw, according to the oldest graphic depiction of boozing, which was found on a seal dating from around 3100BC. The Sumerians even had a patron goddess of brewing and beer, Ninkasi, and one anonymous poet, smitten with her powers, penned a hymn to her on a stone tablet in 1800BC. The ode doubles as a recipe for brewing Sumerian beer — the oldest beer recipe we have.